Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that he will co-sponsor the Equality Act. Senator Casey will become the 42nd senator to cosponsor the legislation, in addition to 175 members of the House.
The bipartisan Equality Act would provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs and jury service.
Our nation’s civil rights laws protect people on the basis of race, color and national origin and in most cases, sex, disability and religion. However, federal law does not provide consistent non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The need for the Equality Act is clear—nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ Americans report having experienced discrimination in their personal lives.
“Despite the Supreme Court's decision in favor of marriage equality in June of 2015, it’s still legal under federal law and in many states, including Pennsylvania, to fire someone, or deny them access to public accommodations because they’re gay or transgender,” Casey said in a press release announcing his support for the Equality Act. “Just recently states like North Carolina and Mississippi have enacted laws that are nothing more than state sponsored discrimination. Much of the discussion around these laws has centered on public restrooms. These laws are about much more that: they are a license to discriminate in all aspects of our society like the workplace and in housing. These laws are contrary the values of our nation and make clear the need for the Equality Act.”
Senator Casey, who defeated the notoriously anti-LGBTQ Rick Santorum, has been a strong proponent of LGBTQ rights in the Senate. He is the lead sponsor of the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA), which would require school districts to adopt codes of conduct prohibiting bullying and harassment, including explicitly on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion.
Everyone should have a fair chance to earn a living and provide a home for their families without fear of constant harassment or discrimination. HRC applauds Senator Casey’s leadership and will continue to work with Members of Congress to increase support for commonsense, explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people.